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Rest in Peace: The List of Deceased Solar Companies

The sad, inevitable results of the Venture Capital bubble and solar shakeout

  By Eric Wesoff: December, 2014

We listed the more than 200 VC-funded solar startups back in 2008. We knew that we'd be writing about most of them on their way up -- as well as on their way down. Add one more solar company to the list of insolvent solar firms. It's one you may not have heard of: Concentrator Optics. The firm had received investment from Capricorn Venture Partners to build Fresnel lenses for the CPV market.

Capacity coming offline means less-efficient companies closing down. Of course there's another long list of relatively unknown Chinese companies closing down as well. 

Keeping track of failing solar companies in 2011 and 2012 bordered on full-time work. That was when solar manufacturing overcapacity and price pressure brutally culled the field. The 2014 dead pool is much smaller and much less painful to view.

This is an updated list of solar companies that have closed, gone bankrupt, become insolvent, ended up in assignment for benefit of creditors, or have been acquired in less than positive circumstances. Although there is a macabre element to this list, it's actually positive news for the industry. The solar companies left standing in 2015 are the firms with effective business plans and value to add to the marketplace. The survivors made it through the bottleneck of the early 21st century solar market.

Here's the updated list of the solar firms that have fought the good fight but have moved on.

2009 to 2010 - Bankrupt, closed, acquired

  • Advent Solar (emitter wrap-through Si) acquired by Applied Materials
  • Applied Solar (solar roofing) acquired by Quercus Trust
  • OptiSolar (a-Si on a grand scale) - OptiSolar’s utility projects were acquired by First Solar; its manufacturing line was sold to NovaSolar.
  • Ready Solar (PV installation) acquired by SunEdison
  • Solasta (nano-coaxial solar) closed
  • SV Solar (low-concentration PV) closed
  • Senergen (depositing silane onto free-form metallurgical-grade Si substrates) closed
  • Signet Solar (a-Si) bankrupt
  • Sunfilm (a-Si) bankrupt
  • Wakonda (GaAs) acquired by Siva

2011  - Bankrupt, closed

2011 - Acquisition, sale

2012 - Bankrupt, closed

2012 Acquisition, fire sale, restructuring

  • Oelmaier(Germany inverters) insolvent, bought by agricultural supplier Lehner Agrar
  • Q.Cells (c-Si) insolvent, acquired by South Korea's Hanwha
  • Sharp (a-Si) backing away from a-Si, retiring 160 of its 320 megawatts in Japan
  • Solibro (CIGS) Q-Cells unit acquired by China's Hanergy
  • Solon (c-Si) acquired by UAE's Microsol 
  • Scheuten Solar (BIPV) bankrupt, then acquired by Aikosolar
  • Sunways (c-Si, inverters) bought by LDK, restructuring to focus on BIPV and storage

2013, Bankrupt, closed

2013 Acquired

  • Agile Energy (project developer) acquired by RES Americas
  • Bosch (c-Si PV module) acquired by Solar World
  • Diehl (Germany inverters) inverter division sold to PE firm mutares AG
  • Conergy (c-Si module) -- Astronergy, a part of China's Chint Group, acquired Conergy's PV module manufacturing assets. Kawa Capital Management purchased the solar projects business.
  • GE-Primestar (CdTe technology acquired from PrimeStar) acquired by First Solar
  • Global Solar Energy (CIGS) acquired by Hanergy
  • Infinia (Stirling engine CSP) assets acquired by Israel's Qnergy
  • MiaSolé (CIGS) acquired by China's Hanergy
  • NuvoSun (CIGS) acquired by Dow
  • Suntech Wuxi (c-Si) acquired by Shunfeng Photovoltaic International for $492 million
  • Twin Creeks (kerfless Si) IP and other assets acquired by GT Advanced Technology
  • Wuerth Solar (installer) business turned over to BayWa
  • Wuerth Solar (CIGS line) taken over by Manz
  • Zenith Solar (CHP) acquired by Suncore

2014 Bankrupt, closed

  • Areva's solar business (CSP) closed -- Suffering through a Fukushima-inspired slowdown in reactor sales, Ausra.
  • HelioVolt (CIGS thin-film PV) closed
  • LDK (vertically integrated module builder) filed for bankruptcy
  • Masdar PV (a-Si) closed its SunFab-based amorphous silicon PV factory in Germany.
  • SolarMax (PV inverters) -- Swiss inverter maker SolarMax's parent firm, Sputnik Engineering, filed for insolvency.
  • Sopogy (small-scale CSP) closed
  • TEL (a-Si) withdrew from its a-Si solar business
  • Xunlight (a-Si) went bankrupt

2014 Acquisition, sale

  • Emcore's CPV business -- Suncore acquired the remaining interest in Emcore's CPV business.
  • RSI (CdTe PV panels) sold to Chinese strategic -- RSI, a VC-funded cadmium telluride thin-film solar module startup formerly known as Reel Solar, was acquired by an undisclosed "Chinese strategic," according to the company's CEO.
  • Solar Junction (CPV semiconductors) sold to Saudi strategic
  • SAG Solarstrom a bankrupt PV project developer, was sold to Shunfeng Photovoltaic, the new owner of PV panel builder Suntech, in an $85 million deal. Germany's SAG Solarstrom ranked among the top ten of PV O&M providers in the world in 2013.

Please note: This list is not complete. If we missed a firm, please, dear reader, let us know, and we'll amend the list.